Why are brands shifting to more sustainable packaging?

A common topic in the realm of sustainability is sustainable products, and although product sustainability through both resources and production is imperative- there are other equally important factors that are less talked about. Product packaging plays a huge role in the ecological footprint of any company. Creating a net-zero product but shipping it in bubble wrap and styrofoam will completely overlook the point of creating the ecological item. 

The idea of sustainable products is to create something using eco-friendly methods to improve quality of life in terms of mortality, age, diseases, and illnesses. It ensures the safety of families and the planet from a long term view. However, if this environmentally-friendly item was being sold and shipped around in nonbiodegradable packaging, then the “eco-friendliness” of the item is a smaller degree. It’s essentially creating more waste than it would if it did not exist. 

Fortunately, the rise of sustainability advocation has reached consumers and impacted their buying habits. According to the World Economic Forum, Consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from sustainable companies.

With public interest in sustainable packaging, companies have a larger motive to spend their finances on backing up their products with ecological packing. The motive also includes corporate social responsibility. 

CSP is a motion to spread positivity around the world, including both the environment and people. More and more companies are setting sustainable development goals, one being Walmart. Walmart’s CSO Kathleen McLaughlin says Walmart’s goal is to take an assertive approach in transforming the retail sector for sustainability. By 2025, the company aims to have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.

It’s important for huge name brands like Walmart to create goals regarding their SDG’s because smaller partner companies take notice and learn. Seeing larger brands make their goals widely known connects corporate social responsibility and the fact that other retailers expect brands to be more sustainable. Retailer Target established five new sustainable packaging goals in 2017, noting customer expectations as the driving force. One of the stated goals was to eliminate polystyrene, which helps to reduce ocean plastic pollution while also making it easier for customers to figure out how to recycle it. Another goal is to include the How2Recycle label on more Target packaging so that shoppers can easily figure out how to recycle each item. Target’s revenue increased from $69.5 billion in 2017 to $75.36 billion in 2019 since the goals were established.

Carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are also motivations for greener packaging. HP began thinking about their own packaging in order to minimize their environmental impact. They worked with BillerudKorsnas to make notebooks out of friendlier materials- therefore lowering packaging materials by 29%. Another benefit for HP is that the box weighs less, which lowered shipping costs and reduced transportation emissions. 

“Working with BillerudKorsnäs has enabled us to offer a notebook box that weighs less, reduces our global carbon footprint and lowers costs, while protecting our products during shipment. This partnership supports our efforts to develop products, as well as the packaging used to ship them, that are more sustainable for our company and our customers.” (BillerudKorsnas).

A decreased carbon footprint has also proved to be cost efficient, saving substantial sums of money. As stated by BillerudKorsnäs: when you work with a sustainable packaging partner like BillerudKorsnäs, you will get custom packaging that is optimised both to lessen environmental impact and increase your efficiency. That means:

  • Less waste in packaging materials
  • Less waste in packaging design to increase sustainability in manufacturing, operations and the supply chain

The result is increased savings for a business.

The last point regards consumer demand. Consumers who care about environmental impact are willing to pay more money to companies that share the same values. Market research company GlobalWebIndex reports that 42% of U.S. and UK consumers seek out products that are recyclable or that use sustainable materials when shopping. 

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Consumers who care about the environment are ready to pay more for eco-friendly products and are willing to switch from less to more green brands.

Ultimately, in order to maintain a loyal consumer base, companies will want to keep their sustainable methods. This will reap both social and environmental benefits. 

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